Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: 'Works for Solo Piano, Vol 4'

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: 'Works for Solo Piano, Vol 4'

Article excerpt

Brahms

'Works for Solo Piano, Vol 4' Piano Sonata No 1, Op 1. Ballade, 'Edward', Op 10 No 1. Eight Pieces, Op 76--No 1, Capriccio; No 2, Capriccio; No 6, Intermezzo. Intermezzo, Op 117 No 3. Intermezzo, Op 119 No 2. Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op 35--Book 1. Variations on a Theme by Schumann, Op 9 Barry Douglas pf Chandos [F] CHAN10857 (83' * DDD)

Volume 4 in Barry Douglas's Brahms cycle-in-progress mixes and matches short pieces culled from various opus number groups with three large-scale works. Or, more accurately, two and a half, since we only get Book 1 of the Paganini Variations. Here Douglas's measured tempi and sober, meticulous execution offer little in the way of virtuoso elan or dynamic momentum. Compare his listless 'cross-string' articulation in Var 3 to Claudio Arrau's lighter, suppler touch (Pentatone, 6/76) and you'd swear that the 70-plus Arrau was actually the younger pianist. Sample Douglas's heavy-gaited double notes in Vars 1 and 2 alongside the quicker, more incisive Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Decca, 10/95) and Evgeny Kissin (RCA, 6/96), or his ho-hum Var 13 octave glissandos next to Yuja Wang's brilliantly gauged timing (DG, 7/10). …

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